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Stonehaven’s fireballs celebrations may go ahead this Hogmanay if visitors agree to stay away

Last year's Hogmanay celebrations in Stonehaven.

Picture by KENNY ELRICK
Last year's Hogmanay celebrations in Stonehaven. Picture by KENNY ELRICK

Organisers of the north-east’s most anticipated Hogmanay event are hopeful it can still go ahead despite ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

But if that is to happen, the Stonehaven fireballs display may have to do without many of the thousands of visitors who pack the town’s streets each year.

In a social media update, the Stonehaven Fireballs Association said it was working with Aberdeenshire Council and Police Scotland to decide the fate of the 2020 event.

And they said they believe the traditional spectacle could still go ahead so long as it is closed to visitors from outside the town.

They have urged visitor not to make preparations to travel to the display in order to avoid disappointment and play a part if helping ensue the event takes place, albeit in a reduced form.

The association said: “At this point we are not cancelled, but this status will be continually reviewed in line with government guidelines in the lead-up to Hogmanay.

“With this in mind – regretfully we would advise that no one outside of Stonehaven makes plans to travel to see the fireballs this Hogmanay.

“We are fortunate in that we are able to make a final decision quite late in the day – but we take the safety of the Auld Toon residents, fireball swingers, marshals and the wider community very seriously.

“If the event can not be run safely, it will not be run at all.”

A crowd of about 10,000 people packed into the streets of Stonehaven to witness the last iconic spectacle and welcome in 2020.

Revellers were treated to a half-hour torchlit procession featuring 50 fireball swingers.

Whirling the 5kg fireballs round their heads, they strode through the town to the harbour, accompanied by an array of performers.

Once at the harbour, the fireballs were flung into the sea.

The ceremony dates back more than 150 years.

According to legend, the ceremony burns off bad spirits from the previous year, so the new year can begin afresh.

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